Clients Come First: How to Build a Customer-Focused Culture

June 22, 2016 Yoseph West

Finding ways to consistently deepen client relationships is a key driver of growth. But creating a true customer-focused culture can be difficult. Here’s how great firms have created awesome client-first environments.

Defining a Customer-Focused Culture

A true customer-focused culture is embedded in every part of the business. Hiring. Training. Coaching. Managing. All staff are held equally accountable for performing awesome client service. Your managers focus on removing obstacles and encouraging staff to put the client first. All staff are devoted to making their clients’ lives better every day.

Creating the Vision for a Service Culture

Building a great service culture starts with your vision for what that culture will look like. And sharing it with all stakeholders. It’s important to interpret what the vision means for each role. With the vision in mind, ask, what happens in each role when a customer needs help?

Turning Your Vision into Reality

The next step is to develop the strategies for making your vision a reality. Consider:

Hiring

When hiring, ask, what traits predict a client service focus? What personality types would fit best in the role and with your team? What interview questions would help you find the right service fit? Where are you most likely to find candidates who would be a good match? What can you do to attract the best talent?
 

Training

Your training strategy is vital to building a customer-focused culture. Training establishes your service standards and expectations. It bakes in your service brand.

A great example of a company that takes service training to another level is Freshbooks. Every new hire at the firm spends their first month in customer service before they assume their actual role. No exceptions. That means everyone is grounded in the importance of service.

Your firm might not have a service desk. You may not want to take training to the Freshbooks extreme. But consider how you can bias your training towards having a customer-focus in all roles.
 

Coaching for great service

Make service the focus of daily coaching interactions. It’s about reinforcing the behaviours you want to see. The first step is to set a standard for service. Perhaps it comes from your vision. Maybe something like, “Each customer touch makes the relationship better.” When coaching, evaluate against that standard. Ask: How did that client call make our relationship better? Could we have done anything more?
 

Recognize and celebrate

It's important to always highlight the positives. Remember, you get more of what you praise. Have a five-minute staff meeting each day to review what happened with clients. Get everyone to contribute. Share successes. Offer suggestions. Celebrate. Feature the amazing things staff do every day.
 

Service strategies for all roles

Service should be networked throughout your firm. Not a separate function, but a key driver in each job. So embed service commitments in all roles. Ask: How can you service the client when trying to make sales? How can your marketing efforts make the client’s life better? Ask the same question about the roles that accountants, bookkeepers and other staff play. What is the service function in each job? What are the expectations around service in each case?

Wrap-up

A great customer-focused culture starts at the top and permeates every aspect of a firm. Leaders set a vision and a consistent example. They coach and manage service with every employee. They elevate service to the highest status within the company. Every employee strives to create great client experiences. And this customer-focus winds through everything you do, like DNA. It drives your business growth.

 

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